The Meaning of the Ring I Wear

Since there isn’t much left of May, I thought I’d post the picture of the ring I wear for Mental Health Awareness month. Mental illness is not only survivable, it can also form a strength, resilience, and empathy like little else can. However – if unspoken, unadressed, and untreated it can kill – or cause life to feel like a walking death.

After coming through a long dark season in my life that would have killed me had I not reached out for help – I had this ring designed. I borrowed the semicolon from a movement that started some years back using the punctuation mark as as a symbol for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Just as a semicolon indicates there is more of the sentence to come, it became a declarations that “My story isn’t over!”

And – as for the Greek symbols, my Maker has many Names, but one of my favorites is “The Alpha and Omega” which describes Him as the Beginning and the End – the Eternal One.

I decided to combine the symbols into one I wear all the time to remind me of this: My story’s not over because it’s all wrapped up in His Eternal Story.

So… if you’re feeling listless and lifeless inside because of this strange season our world is in or for any other reason – please reach out and tell someone. You are not alone… but continued hiding will make you feel like you are.

Please keep the pages of your story turning because you are a very important chapter in the story of our world and the story of our God.

Why STILLNESS matters

Words like “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬a) have always been fascinating to me.

But it has only recently that I have been getting a better understanding of the importance of being still.

You see, I have recently moved to a little apartment that overlooks a river. This river has been teaching me much about life, our Maker-God, and the importance of being still.

In the picture I took this morning, a part of the river is stirred and far from still because of storms moving into the area. Another part of the river is calmer – much more still. Rhetorical question: Which part of the river is more clearly reflecting the light?

Maker God, continue to teach me these lessons on how to be still so I can better reflect the light of Your life to help brighten and warm the cold dark places of our world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

My Healing Place

It’s been a year….

OK, maybe it’s been a few years or a few decades of struggles masked by smiles.

But Maker is faithful to sculpt scarred hearts surrendered to Him into resilient masterpieces.

As I prepare to close this chapter in Atlanta – I am so thankful for the healing that has happened here over the past year-and-a-half.

I am especially thankful for those my Maker has surrounded me with in this season to help the healing happen…. Just to name a few: my North Springs United Methodist Church family – especially the Celebrate Recovery group there, my incredible colleagues who became fast friends at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, my warm and welcoming neighbors here on The Hill ATL, and Hector Pereles at New Living Counseling…. Not to mention the faithful friends and family who have covered me with encouragement and prayers from across the country.

I am so very grateful and more adamant than ever when I say “Don’t do life alone”.

I really don’t think I would have survived had I not reached out for help.

#MyStorysNotOver because it’s part of an #EternalStory. AΩ; #AlphaOmegaSemicolon #SuicidePrevention #Hope #Healing #AbuseSurvivor #CodependencyRecovery #HealingContinues #HealingCommunities

What would your warning label say?

This “What would your warning label say?” question floating around social media triggered a lot of thought (and, of course a new blog post) in me this morning.

My warning label would say, “Stronger and more complicated than meets the eye.” – A “still water runs deep” kind of vibe. I think I’ve been sized up more than once in my life as the quiet compliant one; someone others might be able to mold into whomever they want or need her to be. But those who made those assumptions were often later caught off guard by the stubborn fierceness of a complicated soul.

It’s a good thing our Maker is not surprised or put off by our warning labels. I’m thankful that my #GoodGoodFather is big enough to handle this big personality with even bigger dreams and ideas sometimes hidden beneath a thin layer of quiet and calm. Know this friends: however foreboding your fictitious warning label may be to others, God can handle all of you – and very much wants you to place all of you in His hands so He can.

Mental Illnesses are Complex and Not a Decision.

Photo Credit: WeTheVillage.co

You may be well-meaning by telling a struggling friend to cheer up, think positive, pray more, read the Bible more, eat better, serve others more, rest more, etc. However, the fact is they could already be doing all of these things and still be struggling with mental illness just as someone struggling with cancer or a broken bone may not be instantly cured by “chin up” talks from friends.

Mental illness is as real and complex as cancer, fractures, or any other illness or injury – just often times not as visible. And often these crippling mental illnesses remain invisible because the sufferers feel shamed and/or shunned if they share.

This shaming and shunning is particularly prevalent in some Christian communities where the (false) assumption is that if you have enough faith, you’ll have a healthy and happy life. The truth is, Christians suffering from mental illness may very well be seeking and trusting God with more faith, trust, and passion than those who haven’t suffered this way have even ever needed to muster.

So continue to pray for your friend who struggles with mental illness. But if you can’t have a conversation with them where your part is mostly listening and supporting rather than offering ideas, solutions, and quick fixes which essentially admonish the sufferer to “snap out of it”, it may be best to say nothing at all.

It Takes Us ALL to Change the World

I am so blessed to work for a hospital that was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. So it is not only a hospital, but also an amazing faith-based community. Every day, our hospital president emails daily reflections like the one below to the entire team. Today’s reflection is so powerful, I thought I would pass it on….

Change the World Around You by Pastor Kenny Kuykendall

Whether you realize it or not, you have “it”.   

It may not be with a large circle of people or on a decorated platform, but it is there.

It may not be evident among the masses or recognizable among the elite but it looms in the shadows of your day to day activities.

It is called influence, and you have more of it than you think.

In his book Spiritual Influence, Mel Lawrenz incisively states, “God uses millions of no-name influencers every day in the simplest selfless acts of service. They are the teachers whose names will never be in the newspaper, pastors who will never author a book, managers who will never be profiled in a magazine, artists whose work is buried in layers of collaboration, writers whose sphere of influence is a few dozen people who read their blogs. But they are the army that makes things happen. To them devotion is its own reward. For them influence is a continual act of giving, nothing more complicated than that.”

You don’t have to become a house-hold name to change the house.

You don’t have to have your name out on the marquee to change the marquee.

People doing small things change the world.

Recognize your sphere of influence, regardless of its size, and do something to make a difference.